Remember when the republican President Donald Trump recently took what looked like a real stance against Russian oligarchs. I was pleasantly surprised that he had finally taken a tough position for the first time against the country that attacked our US democracy on numerous fronts having to do with our election infrastructure in 2016. In addition this was supposed to send Russia a message that the US was backing our ally Great Britain where two Russian expats were poisoned by Russian agents on UK’s territory.
Then very recently, I was beside myself with joy when the US Ambassador for the United Nations Nikki Haley had announced that the US was poised to enact additional sanctions against Russia that would be announced by the US Treasurer Steven Mnuchin on the 16th of April 2018.
I did openly wonder about how this momentous event had happened as I had been under the distinct impression that our president was a Russian asset living in the White House where the GOP in the US Congress were selling out our country as many have continued to support and cover for him.
In addition he had very recently taken a measured retaliatory military action against the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s for his usage of chemical nerve gas against his own peoples in the Duoma area around the 7th of April 2018. I had been convinced that he had turned his back on the Syrian peoples by letting Russia have its way in Syria without US interference.
I was feeling like Mister Geppetto with his puppet Pinocchio who had finally turned into a real boy. Donald J. Trump was finally acting like a real US president.
I should have known that something was definitely wrong with this picture. Most of the American people’s are not fooled whenever he announces that no one has been as tough against Russia than he has. I am now viewing the president’s military action in Syria from a completely different perspective but that will have to be the subject for another post.
It turns out that the president made a mistake. There is now credible reporting that the president could be heard screaming and cursing his advisers when he found out that he had expelled more Russian diplomats (60) from the US than our foreign counterparts. It turns out that the advisers had been granted the okay to match the numbers of the European counties. In total the European Union (EU) had expelled 60 Russian delegates from their countries but the numbers for each country was only a fraction of this.
Then the president backed out of the previously agreed sanctions to be announced on April 16, 2018, leaving the US Ambassador Nikki Haley with egg on her face with the odd comment that he didn’t want to antagonize Russia because its officials did not mount a military response to the US bombing along with the UK and France of chemical weaponry manufacturing sites in Syria.
According to the the New York Times, Donald Trump “grew angry” watching Ambassador Haley make the announcement on TV, suggesting that “he had decided no such thing.” What happened next exposes both the crisis of communication within the White House and the administration’s eagerness to throw Haley under the bus.
As per a 4/17/18 Quartz report, “In an effort to fix the situation, and hopefully hide the evidence that no one in the Trump administration knows what’s going on, the White House resorted to a classic move: Blame the mistake on the woman involved.”
“Haley “got ahead of the curve,” the president’s economics advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. “She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador, but there might have been some momentary confusion about that.”
“The ambassador, who is in the tricky position of attempting to conduct international relations and maintain credibility despite Trump’s mercurial approach to politics, stood her ground.”
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” she said Tuesday, speaking with Fox News host Dana Perino.”
I can now say with 100% certainty that we have a Russian asset living in the US White House.
Here is the rest of the story…
On ‘April 15, 2018, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post penned the following report, “Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost”
“President Trump seemed distracted in March as his aides briefed him at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the administration’s plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies.”
“The United States, they explained, would be ousting roughly the same number of Russians as its European allies — part of a coordinated move to punish Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.”
“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”
“The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials — far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.”
“The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia.”
“His briefers tried to reassure him that the sum total of European expulsions was roughly the same as the U.S. number.”
“Growing angrier, Trump insisted that his aides had misled him about the magnitude of the expulsions. “There were curse words,” the official said, “a lot of curse words.”
“The incident reflects a tension at the core of the Trump administration’s increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia: The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
“The past month, in particular, has marked a major turning point in the administration’s stance, according to senior administration officials. There have been mass expulsions of Russian diplomats, sanctions on oligarchs that have bled billions of dollars from Russia’s already weak economy and, for the first time, a presidential tweet that criticized Putin by name for backing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.”
“A White House spokesman stressed that Trump’s Russia policy has been “consistent and tough” from his earliest days in office, and that the president supports the recent moves.
“While we would like to work with Russia, when faced with their malign activities on the international stage, the president will hold them accountable,” Raj Shah said.
“Some close to Trump say the recent measures are the product of an ongoing pressure campaign to push the president to take a more skeptical view of the Russian leader.”
“If you’re getting briefed by the CIA director on all this stuff, there’s a point where, even if you’re Donald J. Trump, you think, ‘Hmm [Putin’s] a really bad guy,’ ” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser.”
“(But) Even as his administration has ratcheted up the pressure on Putin’s inner circle, Trump has continued in recent weeks to make overtures to the Russian leader, congratulating him on his election win and, in a move that frustrated his national security team, inviting him to visit the White House.”
“A cooperative relationship with the Russian leader could help Trump find solutions to problems that bedeviled his predecessor in places such as Ukraine, Syria and North Korea.
“Trump said he could do better but felt stymied by the media, Congress and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“Any conciliatory move he made toward Putin came under heavy scrutiny. “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship is a good thing,” Trump tweeted in November. “They are always playing politics — bad for our country.”
“As the months passed, the president’s options for improving relations with Russia narrowed. In late July, Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Moscow that were widely seen as a rebuke of Trump’s efforts to reach out to Putin. It took aides four days to persuade Trump to sign the bill, which had cleared with a veto-proof majority.”
“Trump advisers were reluctant to even raise the topic of Russian interference in the election, which Trump equated with Democrats’ efforts to undermine his victory. “It’s just kind of its own beast,” a senior national security official said. “It’s been a constant from Day One.”
“Gingrich and other Trump advisers said CIA Director Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state nominee, was one of the few advisers who could address Russia without raising the president’s ire.”
“In January, Pompeo told the BBC that he had “every expectation” that Russia would make an effort to disrupt the 2018 midterm elections. Privately, he pushed Trump to take a tough line on Moscow.”
“One area where aides worked to change Trump’s mind was on a proposal to sell antitank missiles to Ukraine. Obama had opposed the move for fear of angering Moscow and provoking a Russian escalation.”
“Trump initially was also hesitant to support the move, which had the backing of the Pentagon and State Department. “He would say, ‘Why is this our problem? Why not let the Europeans deal with Ukraine?” a U.S. official said.”
“Aides described a lobbying effort by Pompeo, Haley and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in support of the lethal aid. “I just want peace,” Trump would say when pressed on Ukraine.”
“His aides countered that the weapons would help achieve peace by deterring further Russian aggression.”
“To bring the president around, U.S. officials argued that the $47 million military aid package could be a boon to U.S. taxpayers if cash-strapped Kiev stabilized and someday became a reliable buyer of American military hardware.”
“To the surprise of even his closest advisers, the president agreed late last year to the weapons transfer on the condition that the move be kept quiet and made without a formal news release.”
“For some reason, when it comes to Russia, he doesn’t hear the praise,” a senior administration official said. “Politically speaking, the best thing for him to do is to be tough. . . . On that one issue, he cannot hear the praise.”
“The poisoning in Britain in early March of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with a nerve agent upped the tension between Trump and his advisers.”
“Initially, the president was hesitant to believe the intelligence that Russia was behind the attack — a fact that some aides attributed to his contrarian personality and tendency to look for deeper conspiracies. To persuade him, his advisers warned that he would get hammered in the press if he was out of step with U.S. allies, officials said.”
“There was a sense that we couldn’t be the only ones not to concede to reality,” the Trump adviser said.
“The next task was convincing Trump that he should punish Putin in coordination with the Europeans. “Why are you asking me to do this?” Trump asked in a call with British Prime Minister Theresa May, according to a senior White House official. “What’s Germany going to do? What about France?”
“He was insistent that the poisoning in the English city of Salisbury was largely a European problem and that the allies should take the lead in moving against Russia.”
“Trump told aides in an Oval Office session on March 23 that he was confident French President Emmanuel Macron would deliver on promises to expel Russian officials but that he was worried about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country depends on Russian oil and gas.”
“The next day, at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump’s aides gave him the final memo with the precise number of American expulsions.”
“The president signed the order on the plane back to Washington.”
Trump was furious as news reports described the expulsions as the largest purge in U.S. history and noted the wide gap between the United States and its allies. “If you had told me France and Germany were only doing [four], that’s what we would have done,” one official recalled him saying.
Some officials said it was a simple misunderstanding. Others blamed the president’s strained relationship with his top aides, including H.R. McMaster, his former national security adviser.
“Anytime McMaster came in with a recommendation, he always thought it was too much,” the Trump adviser said. “They were just oil and water on everything. So his natural impulse was, if this was your recommendation, it must be too far.”
In the days since the expulsions, Trump has continued to take tough new actions to punish Russia. Early this month, the administration sanctioned 17 senior Russian officials and seven oligarchs and their companies, prompting Russia’s Foreign Ministry to threaten a “harsh response.”
The sanctions were followed by an alleged chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrians in the rebel-held town of Douma, east of Syria’s capital. “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad,” Trump tweeted in his first by-name criticism of the Russian leader. “Big price to pay.”
The relatively modest airstrikes that Trump ordered Friday were designed to deter Assad without provoking a broader military conflict with Russia.
Some European diplomats in Washington question whether the tough moves have Trump’s full support. “This wouldn’t be the policy unless Trump supports it. . . . Yes?” asked one ambassador.
“Russia analysts seem just as mystified. “This is a man who if he had his druthers would be pursuing a much more open and friendly policy with Russia,” said Angela Stent, a former White House official and professor at Georgetown University. “The United States essentially has three Russia policies: the president’s, the executive branch’s and Congress’s.”
Less than a month after Trump shocked his foreign policy advisers by inviting Putin to the White House, the prospects for a visit anytime soon seem remote. No date has been set, White House officials said.”